Al-Suwaidi said: “You will be surprised to see a change in policy in coming months.”

New licences for foreign banks seeking an entry into the UAE market and an expansion of the current limitation of only eight branches are the main areas that could be changed in the New Year. Other issues including a clarification of takeover rules for foreign banks looking acquire domestic ones could also be addressed.

Of the 48 banks operating in the UAE only 22 of them are local firms. Licences to start operating in the UAE were recently granted to Samba Banking Group of Saudi Arabia, National Bank of Kuwait, and Doha Bank.

Al-Suwaidi also said that he felt there was no need to increase the reserve requirements of UAE banks, as has been done in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, recently to stem money supply growth in the hope of stemming inflation.